A while back I was talking to a friend about family obligations. How much do we give of ourselves to our families?
She was speaking about her father, who she had lost a few years back. She said she never regretted the time she spent helping him and visiting him while he was sick, even when it was really hard. Even when she was stressed with work and going to school and taking care of her young kids, she had always made it a point to be there for her Dad. It seemed like it gave her peace now that she doesn’t have her Dad here on this Earth.
She told me – when I’m old and I look back at my life, what do I want to see? What do I want to have done? What will I regret not doing?
I’ve thought about her wise words a lot since then. And I use this practice for myself quite often.
I picture myself, 80 years old. I’ve slowed down. I may be living by myself. I’m alone a lot. There’s so much more time to think. And I think about the past and how full it was compared to my current life. What will I look back at and wished I’d done differently? It’s a pretty powerful exercise for me.
Will I think…
I wish I worked harder to get to the bottom of my to-do list back in 2017.
I wish I finally told ________ that I can’t help them anymore because I have more important things to do.
I wish I spent all of our savings replacing the worn out wood siding on our house instead of taking that family trip to Hawaii we’d all been dreaming of.
Nope. I won’t think any of that.
I will think…
I’m glad I made my relationships a priority.
I’m glad I loved, even when it was hard.
I’m glad I tried to see and appreciate it all while it was happening, in the moment.
I’m creating a photo album in my mind. But instead of just images, I’m cataloging the feeling attached to it. If I slow down enough, I can catch it and file it away.
It’s Wesley’s smile when he sees me turn the corner at school pick up time.
It’s the way Charlie’s shoulders relax when he knows I see him.
And it’s the deep breath I take when Christian walks in the door and says, “What can I do to help?”
Maybe I will be an 80 year old lady some day, maybe I won’t. And I suppose knowing that I’m not guaranteed a long life, I’ll try to enjoy all my memories right now, in this moment.
Now is a great time to remember today.